LIBERAL MP for McMillan Russell Broadbent has said he expects voters to choose him again this election based on his experience as a member of parliament.
VIDEO: this article is a summary of a video interview with Mr Broadbent which can be watched above. An HD version of this video can be enabled by clicking on the cog icon in the bottom right of the YouTube player after pressing the play button. If video is not present please try refreshing the page.
In an interview with The Warragul Citizen Mr Broadbent said he expects his “unusual” way of representing the electorate will attract voters.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve been doing this since 1983,” Mr Broadbent said.
“When farmers needed help I was there, when people with disabilities needed help I was there, people know I will stand up for them in a way that has been shown to be a bit different, a bit unusual for members to take the stands that I have taken.
“Quite often people take just the party line and quite often you need to fight against the party and against the bureaucracy on behalf of your constituents. I’ve been brave and fair about doing that.”
Policy: asylum seekers
Asylum seeker policies saw Mr Broadbent and a number of other Liberal MPs cross the floor against his own party during the Howard government years. Mr Broadbent said he was not campaigning on his party’s policy of turning asylum seeker boats away from Australia.
“It’s not something I put in all my literature because it’s a most complicated issue,” he said.
“We do need secure borders, and I believe our borders are secure, we do address everyone who comes into this country, we still have mandatory detention which I don’t think works anyway, …but at the moment because people are dying at sea… the Australian community want something done about this issue.
“It’s a very serious issue and especially the women of Australia, I’m not saying the men are not concerned, but the women of Australia don’t want to see tiny boys drowning at sea and they don’t want to see the problems that we’re facing right across the northern part of Australia with people losing their lives trying to get here.”
Mr Broadbent said when it was not possible to turn back boats “exactly the same [thing will happen] as at the current time.”
Policy: job growth
When asked about the coalition’s plan to create one million jobs in the next five years, Mr Broadbent said the target was small.
“It depends on your growth figures,” he said.
“Those are not really great targets, I mean we could have set a greater target than that if you had a growth figure like China has a growth figure, but they are projected on reasonable growth figures.
“If you have reasonable growth figures of between 2.5 and 5 per cent you are going to achieve those outcomes.
Mr Broadbent said that growth rate would be achieved by cutting red tape to improve efficiency, but said the party’s policies may be “tweaked” after the election.
“I think all policies can be tweaked once you gain government and you look at the impact and how it may work,” he said.
“If something is not working the way it is planned you are obligated, you are obligated to make a change.”
When asked whether policies would be changed before or after implementation if the coalition won government, Mr Broadbent said the coalition would have a mandate to implement its election promises.
“Of course you have a mandate to introduce those policies and Tony (Abbott) as prime minister of this country will introduce those policies,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean there won’t be people around like myself who will be keeping a very close eye on government outlays into the future.”
Policy: climate change
Mr Broadbent said the coalition’s “direct action” climate change policy, which involves paying polluters to reduce carbon emissions, was a short-term solution which he expects to lead to an emissions trading scheme.
“The direct action policy is just a short-term policy,” Mr Broadbent said.
“I think eventually, as the world moves to an emissions trading scheme we will move to an emissions trading scheme, that was John Howard’s plan, that has been the plan.”
Accusations of ignoring the Latrobe Valley transition
Mr Broadbent said independent candidate for McMillan John Parker’s accusation in an interview with The Warragul Citizen that he and Gippsland MP Darren Chester were only seeking photo opportunities when addressing the Latrobe Valley’s economic transition was incorrect.
“John… knows that I don’t go anywhere for photo opportunities, I go along to make a difference,” Mr Broadbent said.
“But the fact is we’re in opposition. It’s the government that was proposing the good transition plans for the Latrobe Valley, and then they walked away from it.”
When asked what the coalition would do differently for the transition, Mr Broadbent said he would support coal fired power generation.
“For me it’s a future… where we use that brown coal resource,” he said.
“That means we have to have research into how we will use that and find accommodation for new power stations, or a new power station, for the future use of electricity in this state but in a more efficient way.”
Mr Broadbent said that policy did not conflict with his view action should be taken on climate change.
When asked whether anywhere in McMillan was considered a high priority area for broadband investment under the coalition Mr Broadbent said he had spoken to shadow minister for communications and broadband Malcolm Turnbull about connection regional areas.
“I have spoken to Malcolm Turnbull about that and I think it’s important that one way or the another they get access to not the NBN but faster broadband services,” he said.
Policy: hospitals and schools
Mr Broadbent said two of the coalition’s twelve policy dot points, “putting local communities in charge” of hospitals and schools, would not affect Victoria much.
“Victoria already has community involvement in the management of its hospitals and you see that in the West Gippsland hospital here,” he said.
“[State schools are] actually state-based and most of our federal money goes into the private school sector and the catholic school sector and we need to make sure they get the opportunities that they should get.”
Hear more questions to Mr Broadbent on Liberal policy by watching the video at the top of this page.
Liberal party leadership
Mr Broadbent said Mr Abbott was “doing very well” as Liberal party leader and there were presently no plans for a leadership change, despite polls suggesting a landslide win for the opposition if Mr Turnbull was leader.
Mr Broadbent said the Labor party’s leadership change from Bill Hayden to Bob Hawke a month before the 1983 election, which saw the party move from a possible win to a more convincing victory, only gained Labor a couple of seats. When asked whether a similar change for the Liberals would be effective given the major parties were roughly equal in the polls Mr Broadbent said he did not expect a leadership change to occur yet.
“Well there’s nothing on the horizon that would suggest that there would be a change of leadership, but in every situation there’s usually been some catalyst that caused a leadership change, so there’s no catalyst that I see today, it may be different another day.”
Mr Broadbent declined to compare Mr Abbott’s falling approval ratings to the low approval rating that saw Brendan Nelson lose his leadership of the party in 2008.
Mr Broadbent said he expects the coalition to win the election.
“In this election I’m looking forward to a coalition win because I think we can manage the economy and this nation better,” he said.
“I think we can do good things for this nation and I think we have proved in the past that we are very strong when it comes to running the economy, we’re very strong on international relations, we’re very strong in our support of our agricultural communities, and we’re very strong on getting debt down.
“If that means some hard decisions we’ll have to take those hard decisions but I think Australia understands that the nation needs to be managed properly, not just a fantastic number of ideas that cost an absolute fortune and then implemented very badly.”
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